Young offenders unit slammed

Jake Hardy
Jake Hardy

HINDLEY Young Offenders Institute has been slammed by the chief inspector of prisons, who revealed that half of the 161 inmates aged 16 and 17, are receiving treatment for mental health related issues.

Nick Hardwick criticised the facility following the unannounced inspection in May this year, which coincided with the inquest of 17-year-old Jake Hardy, who hanged himself in his cell at Hindley in January 2012.

Inspectors found that, despite ‘significant improvements,’ Hindley was ‘still struggling to keep some of the boys safe.’

There had been 251 reports of bullying and 167 self harm incidents in the previous six months.

On average, there was a fight or assault every day.

The damming report says that during the inspection it was also announced that the number of young adults is set to increase significantly at the facility in the months to come.

This led Mr Hardwick to raise concerns that the move “risked detracting attention from the safe management of the very vulnerable and challenging younger boys”.

HMYOI Hindley is split into two adjacent sites, one for boys aged 16-17 and the other for young adults aged 18-21.

The inspection in May was carried out only in the lower site which houses 161 inmates.

However, Mr Hardwick did praise the prison given the challenges they face.

He found that despite one in two being treated for mental health issues and two in five having been in local authority care, the outcomes achieved were “impressive”. Mr Hardwick said: “Overall, this inspection found some significant but necessary improvement at Hindley.

“Some aspects, such as learning and skills and resettlement work, are now very good, comparing favourably not just with other YOIs but with similar provision in the community.

“However, these improvements are fragile. The boys Hindley holds are now more vulnerable and more challenging than ever and, as in other YOIs we have inspected, the evidence of this inspection suggests a much more fundamental review is required about how best to hold these boys safely and securely.

“In the short term, it is essential that the pressures involved in expanding the young adults side, at the same time as managing budget reviews and new policy initiatives on the boys side, do not provide a dangerous distraction to managing the already high risks involved in keeping the boys at Hindley safe, secure and prepared for a positive new start when they leave.”

The inspection could not have come at a worse time for prison chiefs.

Jake Hardy of Stonegravels, Chesterfield, was serving a sentence for affray and assault when he hanged himself in his Hindley cell in 2012.

The inquest jury concluded the 17-year-old died four days later from his own deliberate act but found multiple failings by YOI staff contributed to his death after he had been bullied by inmates.

Mother Liz Hardy is campaigning for prison service improvements with charity INQUEST to prevent similar deaths and appeared on Dead behind Bars, in April this year. The documentary claimed there have been 80 deaths in custody in the last ten years where youngsters aged 21 or under have killed themselves.

Ms Hardy said: “He was bullied that much he was tortured.

“He had a mental age of a 12 to 13-year-old. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder and autism.”

She argued he should not have gone to a mainstream prison.

Liz added: “He died in the care of the state. They had him 46 days. I had him 17 years. It really makes me angry.”

The film was inspired by INQUEST’s 2012 report Fatally Flawed. INQUEST called for a review which the Government has now agreed to commission into the deaths of 18-24 year-olds.